KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Montana Gov. Seeks To Buy State’s Prescription Drugs From Canada; Settlement Reached For Ground Zero Workers

"Gov. Brian Schweitzer [D-Mont.] said Thursday that he is seeking federal permission to import cheaper drugs from Canada for use in state insurance programs," The Associated Press/The New York Times reports. "Schweitzer said he thinks the move could chop 40 percent off the $100 million the state spends each year on prescription drugs for Medicaid, the children's health insurance program, state employees, and inmates at the prison. …The governor said he envisions the state setting up a deal with a Canadian wholesaler that could mail the drugs to local pharmacies on insurance plans paid for by the state. In the case of the prison, the governor said he expects the state would order those directly" (3/11).

In New York, "[a] settlement of up to $657.5 million has been reached in the cases of thousands of rescue and cleanup workers at ground zero who sued the city over damage to their health, according to city officials and lawyers for the plaintiffs," The New York Times reports. "They said that the settlement would compensate about 10,000 plaintiffs according to the severity of their illnesses and the level of their exposure to contaminants at the World Trade Center site. … The settlement, which took two years to negotiate, raises the prospect of an end to years of complex and politically charged litigation that has pitted angry victims against city officials, who questioned the validity of some claims and argued that the city should be immune from liability" (Navarro, 3/11).

Meanwhile, "[a]nother set of health care reform bills that will keep Utah moving down its own health care reform path regardless of what Congress does this spring [was] approved this session," Deseret News reports. The central piece of legislation "adds more girders to support the basic free-market, consumer-oriented restructuring of the state's health care system now in the third year of a decade-long process." It also "adds transparency so consumers can track positive and negative outcomes of procedures, expands and refines the pilot Web-based health care exchange and adds a caveat for health care insurance carriers to ensure they develop plans that will allow significant portions of Utah's 300,000 uninsured to be able to buy into a plan" (Thalman, 3/11).

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